Summarize chapters 1-6 of Affluenza and discuss two symptoms you've experienced. What do you agree with in chapter 6?

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The first six chapters of the book Affluenza lie in part 1, which comprises 14 chapters in total. Part 1 of the book is titled “Symptoms,” and it examines the symptoms of affluenza, which is defined as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting...

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from the dogged pursuit of more.”

Chapter 1 of the book is titled “Shopping Fever.” It presents shopping mania in its various forms and examines how this leads to affluenza. It highlights shopping trends during festive seasons such as Christmas and observes that although many Americans want to reduce their spending on gifts and other luxuries during festive seasons, the will to do so lacks. It notes the increased demand for low-priority luxury goods such as shoes and jewelry leading to the need for bigger shopping centers or malls and the emergence of home shopping channels and online shopping, all trends that push vulnerable consumers into impulsive spending and an obsession with the acquisition of material goods.

Chapter 2 is titled “A Rash of Bankruptcies.” It presents the aftermath of the excessive spending highlighted in chapter 1: a deeply indebted consumer. It highlights other consequences of poor spending habits such as low or a complete lack of individual savings.

Chapter 3 is titled “Swollen Expectations.” It presents the rush for bigger and more fashionable things, whether houses, cars, or parties, among present day American consumers.

Chapter 4 is titled “Chronic Congestion” and talks about the clutter that has resulted from the increased consumerism in America, for instance, traffic jams and household clutter.

Chapter 5 is titled “The Stress of Excess” and talks about the strain that consumerism has on consumers’ mental health. It mentions problems such as “possession overload” or the need to deal with owning many things, lack of time to enjoy the simple things in life, and overwork.

Chapter 6 is titled “Family Convulsions” and talks about the negative effects of affluenza on the family—for instance, reduced family interactions owing to work pressure.

A common symptom of affluenza is shopping fever during festive seasons (chapter 1, p. 34). It is tempting to follow the crowd and impulsively spend more money on luxuries such as gifts and parties. To protect yourself against such impulsiveness, you can embrace financial discipline; this empowers you to prioritize your needs so that your spending matches your priorities.

Another common symptom of affluenza is indebtedness (chapter 2, p. 42). This is a consequence of impulsive spending and can be controlled by being more mindful of your spending.

Chapter 6 of the book exemplifies the importance of bonding in a family setting (chapter 6, p. 68). In modern day families, bonding is limited by the lack of time due to work pressures and the need to increase earnings to be able to afford the luxuries of life. Perhaps we should take a step backwards and ask ourselves whether material things are more important than the human connections that we can form with our loved ones.

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Chapters 1-6 of Affluenza by John de Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor are in the section called "The Symptoms." Chapter 1, "Feverish Expectations," deals with the explosive consumerism that has affected the United States since the end of World War II in 1945. The authors cite fear as one of the factors that motivates Americans to buy far more than they need. In Chapter 2, "All Stuffed Up," the authors discuss the immense amount of material goods Americans possess. The excess material goods Americans own leads to hoarding and to traffic that clogs our highways and airports.

Chapter 3, "Stressed to Kill," documents that Americans have become more stressed rather than more leisurely in an attempt to compile consumer goods. Chapter 4, "Family Fractures," discusses how materialism has invaded family life, as families compete to make sure their children engage in more activities and compile better resumes to get into college to make more money. Chapter 5, "Community Chills," talks about how the drive to compile goods has interfered with the growth of community life and has led to Americans isolating themselves. Chapter 6, "Heart Failure," is about how Americans yearn for meaning in what has become a largely meaningless consumerist culture.

On page 63 of Affluenza, in Chapter 6, the authors discuss the work of Michael Lerner, a writer and rabbi, who found that middle-class Americans want to contribute to the common good but feel that they do not have the opportunity to do so. The reader may also agree with this sentiment. There are several symptoms of "affluenza" the reader may also relate to, such as the tendency of Americans to isolate themselves watching TV or playing video games at home rather than choosing to relate to community organizations (page 53). On page 43, the authors discuss the over scheduling of American child, as their parents try to make them competitive in college admissions so that they can eventually earn more money. This type of over scheduling is another feature of American life that many readers might have experienced. 

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